Paolo Bacilieri was born in 1965 near Verona. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna and has been a cartoonist since 1982. He was especially inspired by his mentor, Milo Manara.
In 1986 he made his début with the comic adventure novel »Il tesoro degli imbala« (1989; tr: The Treasure of the Imbala), with a text written by Franco »Steve« Mescola. He then invented the character Mario Barokko, a private investigator in the service of a small detective agency; the first episode appeared as »Otello 91« in 1988. Barokko is a breezy kind of guy who doesn’t hesitate to employ unfair means when it comes to collecting evidence. This makes him a kind of mirror to unbridled and unscrupulous Italy. In 2004 his adventures were collected in the volume »Barokko«. In the following years Bacilieri worked for both the French and Italian markets and published comic strips in the magazines »Blue«, »Comic Art«, and »The Artist«. In 1999, he started a long term collaboration with the main Italian publisher Sergio Bonelli, working on the character Napoleone, a detective of Italian-Ethiopian origin who lives in Geneva, created by Carlo Ambrosini. Bacilieri made his début as a full author on Napoleone with »Quando muoiono le balene« (2001; tr: When the Whales Die), followed by six more episodes. He then created three episodes around the character Jan Dix with texts by Ambrosini. Together with Antonio Serra he created the story »Sul pianeta perduto« (2012; tr: On a Lost Planet) as the eighth volume of the series »Romanzi a fumetti Bonelli«. In »Adiós Muchachos« (2012), based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Chavarría, Bacilieri, together with the writer Matz, tells the story of the beautiful Cuban Alicia, who always travels by bicycle and is on the prowl for men in order to escape the poor living conditions. Then she comes across a manager named Juanito, who sees through Alicia and makes her an unusual offer. His playful, well-researched, and innovatively drawn graphic novel »Fun« (2014) is about a chronicle of the crossword puzzle written by a novelist named Pippo Quester together with his protégé Zeno Porno, a Disney comic book writer and the author’s alter ego. »Sweet Salgari« is a comic biography of Emilio Salgari (1862–1911), who as the »Italian Karl May« stimulated the imagination of his contemporaries, but was exploited as an author in such a way that he finally committed suicide out of desperation.
Among other national and international honors, Bacilieri was named best illustrator by A.N.A.F.I. (2002) and best author at Lucca Comics & Games (2006) and was nominated for the Best Foreign Graphic Novel Eisner Award (2018). He lives in Milan.